- Do you feel like you send information and then don't hear anything back from inquiries?
- Did your response ask any questions to help keep the conversation moving forward?
- Do you keep a calendar of people you plan to follow up with a second or third time?
Many creative businesses think that providing information after a first inquiry will either confirm or deny whether a client wants to work with them and then leave it up to the client to move the conversation forward after one response. However, there are many clients who inquire while they're only in the stage of doing research and not actually ready to book. These clients may not be ready to make a decision for several months based on all the information they're gathering up front, and how you do or don't follow up with them after that first inquiry may actually be a factor in whether they work with you or not.
In a sea of competition, follow-through is one of the things that can make your business stand out among the rest. How does your level of service stand out from the rest? Are you letting an inquiry go silent and not really give it a second thought, or do you check back in after a couple weeks to see if the client has any questions about what they've seen, or take the time to send additional resources that can help the client?
Lead follow-through doesn't need to be complicated or automated by a special system, in fact, here are a few steps you can take no matter what kind of inquiry system you're using:
1. Create a Follow-Up Email Template
It should be a response that you can save as a draft or signature in your email program and easily copy/paste. You want to confirm that they did receive your info, and give an opportunity to continue moving the conversation forward in a way that they may not have done with anyone else yet...
Here's a sample email draft- but change the wording to fit your personality and business...
"Thanks so much for contacting us last week! We haven't heard back from you, so we want to make sure you received our last email? We'd love to set up a time to chat about what you're looking for and answer any questions you have- which time would work best to talk on the phone or via Skype? Tuesday 6pm, Wednesday 12pm, Thursday 3pm?"
2. Schedule a Weekly Follow-Through Date
By putting follow-through as an appointment in your calendar, you'll have to move it around if you fail to do it one day, but by keeping it as an appointment, you're more likely to spend the time going through your inbox and follow-through with old clients than if you don't put it in your calendar at all.
3. Decide on Appropriate Frequency
You may want to wait 1 week to follow up after the first email, but then 2-3 weeks if you haven't heard anything after following up with a second email. You don't want to be spammy or pushy and get blocked, so make sure you're adding value and being helpful with each follow-up email.
4. Create an Email Folder for Active Leads & Dead Leads
When you're waiting to hear back from a client the first or second time, they would be considered an active lead and it would be easiest to find their email again if it was in a dedicated folder for leads you plan to follow-through with. Likewise, there may still be helpful information to gain from a dead lead down the road, so keeping a folder of people the you've contacted several times and never heard back from may be helpful for some future research.
Anne Ruthmann is a professional photographer in New York City. With over 10 years of success as a full-time photographer in weddings, portraits, editorial, and now architecture and interiors, she spends any extra time she has helping others find smart solutions to business problems. Stay in touch on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.